Pepper Pike is keeping a watchful eye on the rising costs of recycling while putting together its 2019 budget, along with other capital purchases for the service, police and fire departments.

“Recycling is a significant issue countywide,” Mayor Richard Bain said. “We have a degrading economic benefit for recycling but also a greater cost of recycling. There is not an apparent solution other than absorbing the cost.”

In 2010, the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District Recycling Processing Consortium was created, and member municipalities were paid to recycle various items, according to Pepper Pike Service Director Bob Girardi.

In January, China’s ban on 24 types of solid waste went into effect, including unsorted paper and a type of plastic commonly used in bottles, according to The New York Times. Now, Pepper Pike may have to pay to recycle, making it less financially beneficial.

The city contracts with Kimble Recycling & Disposal for collecting trash and recyclables. Residents can place cans, cartons, glass, paper and boxes and plastic bottles and jugs in a special blue bag for recyclables at their home for Kimble to collect. Pepper Pike used to get revenue from the recyclables. Mr. Girardi said that in 2015, Kimble removed 393 tons of recyclables and the city received $7,188. In 2016, 364 tons were recycled and the city made $2,000.

Currently, Kimble pays Pepper Pike 50-percent of the recycling revenue unless processing costs exceed revenue. If it does, the company pays the city a minimum of 50-cents per ton, according to the contract.

City officials anticipate Pepper Pike may be charged for recycling pickup in the future.

There is also a 2.5-ton recycling bin from Caraustar located near the service center on Shaker Boulevard for residents to deposit paper. In 2015, the paper recycling bin brought Pepper Pike $2,848 in revenue. The following year, the city had to pay the company $117 to pick up the paper. By 2017, Caraustar was charging the city $261 for the year to empty the bin. This year, the city has paid between $210 and $260 each week for the company to pick up the recycled paper.

Mr. Girardi estimated that it will cost Pepper Pike nearly $13,000 to keep the paper recycling bin in 2019. “The pickup and delivery of paper is costing us a lot,” he said.

Mr. Girardi also mentioned other upcoming expenses for the Service Department at the Dec. 1 budget meeting, including a renovation to the women’s restroom, which could cost $35,000. The city is also looking into constructing a storage building for service equipment, and plans to perform a needs assessment in 2019 for $25,000. Councilmen Tony Gentile and Jim LeMay agreed, saying that there is a financial benefit to housing service trucks indoors in the winter.

The city plans to replace several vehicles next year, including a dump truck expected to cost $175,000 and a scooter used to pick up recyclables for $25,000.

Police Chief Joe Mariola named several needs for his department, including body cameras and new helmets. Chief Mariola plans to outfit each of the department’s 19 officers with a body camera for a total of $20,400. He is also looking to make a $9,600 expenditure for ballistic helmets for the police force because the officers are scheduled to engage in active shooter training.

Fire Chief John Frazier made one part-time firefighter a full-time employee, leading to a $20,000 increase in personnel costs. The department also plans to purchase a new generator in 2019 for $66,000 and upgrade the cutter for the jaws of life, a type of rescue equipment, for $10,000.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Pepper Pike, Orange and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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